PREMIUMS over cash in Hang Seng Index futures built up on Monday closed yesterday as cash and futures continued a modest rally. The November contract was up 75 points to 9,625, a premium over the cash of one point compared to a premium at the close on Monday of 27 points. In December futures the contract rose 90 points to 9,680, placing the premium at 56 points against 66 points on Monday. Turnover in the December contract for the first time exceeded activity in November. In December there were 17,830 contracts traded against 12,022 contracts in November. Open interest in November for Monday was 17,495 contracts against 24,800 in December. In the day there was relatively steady buying. The low in the November contract was at the opening at 9,520. The high was ahead of the close at 9,688. Dealers in the cash spoke of some cash buying in short covering ahead of the expiry of November today. Index options were relatively busy with activity shifting strongly from November to December. The activity that did remain in November was at the 9,600 strike in the calls and in the 9,400 and 9,600 strikes in the puts. December saw activity focusing in the 9,600 and 10,000 calls, followed by 9,800 and 10,200. In the puts the activity focused on 8,800, 9,000, 9,200 and the 9,400. Jardine Fleming said sentiment was mixed with buyers and sellers in puts and calls. Call buyers were keen to pick up options at what they considered relatively cheap implied volatility, ahead of what they expect will be a rise in this yardstick during the final month of the year. Overall sentiment today will take its lead from North American trading and the release of consumer confidence data for November. Brokers still harbour a hope that sentiment in December towards Hong Kong stocks will rise. There is the hope enthusiasm for Hong Kong stocks will be triggered by a new wave of interest-rate-cut speculation. Should a surge in buying fail to emerge in December and January, it will mean the traditional end-of-year and Lunar New Year rally will have failed for the third consecutive occasion.